The roles and responsibilities of a Kenyan governor
Fancy names have been introduced in Kenya’s political landscape, but the most fancied of them all are governor and senator. Of the two, the governor’s position has attracted the most interest because it will essentially be the one to steer the economic development of Kenya’s devolved units of administration- the counties.
The governors will be assuming powerful roles in as far as previous political positions are concerned. They will hereafter be the heads of the 47 counties established under the constitution and will have a more managerial role as opposed to legislative, as exercised by members of parliament.
All the 47 counties will be semiautonomous, meaning they draw their jurisdiction from the central government of the Republic of Kenya. The county governments will be headed by the governor and a deputy county governor. A county assembly will also be constituted, complete with a speaker and legislative authority.
The executive authority of the county is vested in, and exercised by a County Executive Committee which will be headed by the governor and his deputy in administering the counties. The membership of the CEC will be appointed by the governor with approval needed from the county assembly. Those appointed should be selected from outside the assembly.
Clause 3 (a) and (b) of Article 179 of the constitution says that the number of members appointed to the CEC should not exceed one-third of the number of members of the county assembly, if the assembly has less than thirty members. If the county assembly happens to have more than thirty members, the CEC membership will not exceed ten members.
According to Article 180 of the constitution, the governor shall be directly elected by the voters registered in the county, on the same day as a general election of Members of Parliament and shall serve for a period not exceeding two terms. The deputy county governor will not be directly elected but shall stand elected once they are nominated by the elected county governor.
Interestingly, if for any reason the position of the governor becomes vacant, the deputy governor takes over as governor. If a deputy governor is for any reason unable to take charge, the assembly speaker will act as governor pending an election for the county governor which must take place after sixty days.
The CEC which is headed by the governor and his deputy will be tasked with among other functions implementing county legislation, managing and coordinating the functions of the county administration and its departments and preparing proposed legislation for consideration by the county assembly as outlined in Article 183. The county assembly may provide oversight on the CEC and shall be responsible for the legislative functions of the county.
Once new plans and policies are formulated, they must be approved by the assembly. A governor is the man who will be at the forefront in making these key decisions which will most certainly relate to the exploitation of the county’s resources, the development and management of its infrastructure and growth of its institutions. From the job description above, a governor in modern day Kenya must be a team leader, with not only proven managerial skills but also a visionary outlook.
Counties will be allocated money for operational and developmental activities by the central government as provided for by the constitution. This fiscal year, the government has allocated some 203 billion for the counties that are expected to come into operation after the March 4th 2013 elections. The criteria for allocation of the funds are population (45%), poverty (20%), land area (8%) and fiscal responsibility (2%).
The difference in level of development among counties in Kenya will hardly be dependent on the amount of money allocated to them. Rather, it will heavily hinge on the competence of the governors to lead. Some political pundits also hold the view that in future, the trend will be such that the president of the republic will easily emerge from among the former governors with proven track records of performance.